Sword’s Edge Publishing

SEP has published a few lines that may be of interest, and you can find a page devoted to each.

Centurion: Legionaries of Rome has characters serving under the eagles of Rome in her famous legions.

Nefertiti Overdrive is about high-octane, wire-fu action set in Ancient Egypt and includes a series of adventures that tell a longer story.

Sword’s Edge is a generic system for which multiple adventures in different genres are available.

The Bloody Crown: Rhona Argusdottir

As mentioned earlier, I’m posting chapters from The Cyclops BannerA Bloody Crown, a novel I wrote. It’s a second-world fantasy inspired by the First Scots War of Independence.

As I post chapters, I’m also going to post game stats for many of the chief characters here, on the Sword’s Edge Publishing website.

Rhona Argusdottir Trevean, after the death of her father, embodies the resistance for the kingdom of Kellalh, under occupation by neighbouring Surraev for going on 15 years. Her father, the Old Baron, was the last holdout in his isolated province of Selcost, and with him gone, she is his heir. Except traditionally in Kellalh, women can’t inherit.

So, Rhona is fighting for the freedom of her kingdom and for her own freedom. Cristobel might be the commander of the army that seeks to free Kellalh, but she’ll be its leader.

As with last time, I’ll present Rhona as she would have been as a new character, and then how I see her in the novel.

A character sheet for Rhona Argusdottir, a character in the novel A Bloody Crown, as a young person
A character sheet for Rhona Argusdottir as presented in the novel A Bloody Crown

Farewell OGL

Resistance Earth RPG cover. A lone figure faces a desolate landscape, their rifle on their back.

There’s been some . . . issues with Wizards of the Coast recent handling of the Open Game Licence, the licence that SEP published almost all of its first products–many of them under the d20 sub-licence. I still have a bunch of OGL products out there, some of them very recent, using newer rules’ sets.

But the recent attempt to pull the rug from under creators by WotC, probably to please their corporate masters at Hasbro, has soured me on the OGL entirely. I invested a lot of time into these products, and a bunch of them are not anywhere near paying that off, but I’d rather just be done with them and snip that cord. Get free of it.

I’m lucky. I can do this. Many probably can’t. That’s no moral judgment. It’s a business one, and I respect that. Fuck the management at WotC and Hasbro, but not the developers and not the third-party developers, who love the game and the art of design.

So grab stuff while you can. Stuff is 1/2 off until 31 Jan, when it disappears. Some of it might come back–there is a lot of writing in there–but there’s no guarantee. We’ll see.

I’d prefer you to grab stuff at Compose Dream Games or itch, but a lot of my OGL stuff is available only at Drive Thru RPG.

The Bloody Crown: Cristobel vel Lupus

In 2023, over on my personal site, I’m going to be posting chapters from The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown, the novel I recently finished. It’s a second-world fantasy inspired by the First Scots War of Independence.

As I post chapters, I’m also going to post game stats for many of the chief characters here, on the Sword’s Edge Publishing website.

One of the first characters you are going to meet is Cristobel vel Lupus, Count Terenquist and Captain-General of the Free Company of the Unicorn Banner. He is a key protagonist whose presence has an outsized impact on events in the story.

For Cristobel, let’s build him as a Sword’s Edge character. I’m going to provide both stats for when Cristobel was an introductory character (probably about 20 years before the events in the novel) and then as the character as presented in the novel. That later character will have had 10 Advances—one for every couple of years of life experience. He probably would have earned five of those in the first two years of his career as a mercenary, with the others accumulating after.

Welcoming in 2023

The cover for the Sword Noir adventure, Broken Tigers. It's a spooky city in shadows and darkness

Listen, 2022 wasn’t the best, but it was better than 2021! I’m hoping that 2023 will continue the improvements. Part of it is that I’ve been able to publish a few adventures and update a few games, bringing products more in line with my hopes. Nothing’s perfect, but I think the products are better.

So I’m tentatively looking forward to 2023. And so why not offer a sale as 2023 arrives?

Just in case there’s some SEP stuff on your list that you’ve been thinking of buying, I’m running a sale over at itch.io that runs into the first week of 2023.

You can find it here: https://fraserronald.itch.io/G8DNCTP3UV

I’m Not Dead Yet

I’m feeling better . . .

I am in the middle of playtesting a new game. For those who used to support my Patreon, it is based on the Quantum and GOD setting, but now called the Lost Earth. I don’t think it will ever see the light of day, simply because of the cost of bringing it out along with its setting, and the system is derived from its setting, so I don’t think I’d be happy releasing it separately.

A figure stands before broken structures looking like fallen skyscrapers beneath the title The Lost Earth: Rebirth, and the subtitle of Adventures in a Broken World

I said the same thing about League of Misfits, so who knows.

Anyway, the playtest is not only helping me with the system, but also helping me with myself.

My formative RPG experience was D&D—AD&D, 2E, and 3/3.5. Until the early 2000s, I almost exclusively played D&D—a bit of Top Secret, some Gamma World, Some WEG Star Wars and a bit of Champions was the sum total of my RPG experience.

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One Down But Work Continues

With Nefertiti Overdrive 2E out in the wild, my trifecta is down to a duology, and work is proceeding apace on both.

One note here is on print editions. The main cost for print editions—along with my time—is indexing. It is precise, painstaking work for which I am poorly engineered. If I would like someone else to do it, it comes at a cost—and SEP will only just start turning a profit this month. So, while print editions for Nefertiti Overdrive 2E and later Kiss My Axe may happen, they will be slow in coming.

Kiss My Axe is in the research phase, but this is also leading to some design decisions and evident changes in the mechanics and focus.

Image by Dmitriy Tereshchenko
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Nefertiti Overdrive 2E

Cover of Get Netiqret

As mentioned earlier, I was working on updating Nefertiti Overdrive, tweaking the rules, focusing the characters more on Egypt and Egypt’s environs, and adding historical context. I’ve removed Get Netiqret as its own thing. When I first wrote Nefertiti Overdrive, I was heavily inspired by the design of Lady Blackbird, but what I released was not nearly as elegant or purpose-driven, and so I think it makes more sense to have Get Netiqret out there on its own.

I also removed the quickstart and released its adventure separate—but still for free now called Proof of Death.

It’s all complete and out now at itch.io: Nefertiti Overdrive, Proof of Death, and Get Netiqret.

I feel better having got it all done. Research proceeds apace for Kiss My Axe 2E, and it is going to be a significant departure in character design if not in base mechanics from what exists now.

Trifecta?

Nefertiti Overdrive Cover

It’s been a while since I’ve had any news, any information on new products, and that will likely continue for a while, but I don’t feel right if I’m not working on something, and I’m a little too old to change that.

I have three projects at various stages that I’m working on, two of which will likely see a release.

1) Nefertiti Overdrive 2E: I’m updating Nefertiti Overdrive, both changing the structure of the book, and altering the mechanics. I’m removing the adventure and having the book focused on the game itself. The adventure that was included in the 1E book—Get Netiqret–will be released separately but at the same time as 2E.

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Broken Tigers: A Sword Noir Adventure

In a city of memories is a city of violence.

A fantasy city in darkness illuminated by a strange blue light

I’ve released another adventure for Sword Noir 2E. In it, the PCs go back to Everthorn and East Reach outside the walls to face a piece of their past.

Traditional wisdom says one cannot go back to one’s home, because one cannot travel in memory. To forget one’s past is to forget one’s self, but the past is always a trap for the present. Of course, you’ve never been one to let good advice ruin a bad plan. An old friend is in trouble, and no matter what trap the past has laid, you’ll help them if you can—and you are certain that you can.

Broken Tigers is a 45-page PDF adventure for Sword Noir: A Role-Playing Game of Hardboiled Sword & Sorcery (Second Edition) with 6 pre-generated characters for use by the players. While the adventure does not require the use of Sword Noir, the narrative characters and some situations are based on that system and would require modification to use with another.

You can purchase Broken Tigers at itch.io.

RPG Research: Sea Raiders Vs. Ugarit

Okay, so my most recent #RPGResearch post goes a little something like this:

In The Philistines and Aegean Migration at the End of the Late Bronze Age, Assaf Yasur-Landau references one of the most common primary sources on the Sea Peoples: letters using the medium of clay tablets that warn of raiding parties (p. 164). In one, the chief prefect warns the king of 20 enemy ships, while in another, the King of Ugarit relates to the King of Alashiya of sighting of seven ships and asks if that king has sighted other vessels.

In general, those ships are often said to likely be Sea Peoples, though there is no definitive proof. Piracy was not an uncommon profession, and a fleet of seven ships seems in line with what Homer has Odysseus speak of in the Odyssey, when Odysseus tells of fitting out nine ships for a raid (14.248).

If you are interested in the likely linkages of the Myceneans and piracy, have a look at Jeffrey P. Emanuel’s chapter “Odysseus’ Boat? New Mycenaean Evidence from the Egyptian New Kingdom” in Discovery of the Classical World: An Interdisciplinary Workshop on Ancient Societies.

If nine is the size of the fleet raised by what Homer would have us call a king, twenty does seem a significant threat if you are the lords of Ugarit. But how much of a threat?

Lionel Casson in his book The Ancient Mariners: Seafarers and Sea Fighters of the Mediterranean in Ancient Times, assesses that at the time of the Trojan War—the Late Bronze Age—ships would have 20-100 oars, with 50 being normal (pp. 38-39). Each of those oars would be manned by an individual who was also a warrior—basically your entire crew were marines. That would mean that seven ships could have 700 soldiers, but would more likely have 350, as the fleet would probably be made up of vessels of varying sizes. That major fleet that worried the chief prefect of Ugarit could have 2,000 troops, but even 1,000 is substantial given that the population of Ugarit has been extrapolated to be between 3,000 and almost 14,000 (see W. Randall Garr’s “A Population Estimate of Ancient Ugarit” in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research issue 266 from 1987).

And if Helen did have the face that launches a thousand ships? An army of 50,000 would indeed be terrifying—if utterly fanciful for the period.